Monday, September 19, 2016

No one has cost the USA's 40 million smokers more money than Hillary Clinton: at least $90 billion so far

About 40 million people in the USA still smoke cigarettes and they still get socked by legislators looking to fund virtually every pet program except smoking cessation.
     From 2000-2012, the feds and state governments increased cigarette taxes more than 120 times (thank you for that statistic, Phillip Morris), despite the fact that the Journal of the American Medical Association said (way back in 1989) in a study on sin taxes:
"On balance, smokers probably pay their way at the current level of excise taxes on cigarettes... in contrast, drinkers do not pay their way..." (JAMA. 1989;261:1604-1609)
      Conversely, the CDC loves to portray smokers as economic parasites, purportedly costing $300 billion per year in health care and lost productivity. (The CDC never mentions who gets all the Medicare, pension and Social Security money smokers forgo by checking out early. Or how much nonsmokers cost on their way to the grave by living long enough to get Alzheimers. Or how much nonsmokers benefit from hugely-taxed $15-a-pack cigarettes in New York City. Or how much the Mafia makes from smuggling cigarettes from North Carolina into the Big Apple for people trying to avoid the sky-high taxes the CDC encourages.)
     But we digress.
     No one in the country has cost smokers more than Hillary Clinton.
     Case in point: her campaign ads brag about how she won health care for eight million children, presumably all by her little self. That would be 1997's S-CHIP program, for which she held no press conference and for which she did not testify before Congress (Ted Kennedy did credit her for working behind the scenes.)
     We're not petty; we won't belabor Hillary's bold claim that she "won" health care for poor kids.
     What we can't ignore is that that Hillary's campaign ads do not tell you who ended up paying for the S-CHIP program. We're sure Hillary would be quite happy if you assumed the entire village footed the bill, but alas, only the smokers in the village got dunned by Mrs. Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Orrin Hatch, et al.
     That original S-CHIP program cost the federal government about $40 billion, financed entirely by a very large increase in tobacco excise taxes — but nothing like what Hillary had in store for smokers 12 years later.
     By 2009 Clinton was in the Senate, the CHIP program was reauthorized, and again smokers (and only smokers) had to pay the $50 billion bill for the extension to the children's health care. This time, the increase in the federal tobacco excise tax was 159%.
     In case you need to be reminded, Hillary's tax kitty is ruthlessly regressive. Smokers tend to be poor, and Hillary's preferred way of funding her pet program is a narrowly-focused consumption tax which efficiently targets the nicotine-addicted and impoverished.
     Those 90 billion dollars of tobacco excise tax increases, divided by, say, the current count of 40,000,000 smokers, amount to 2,250 per person, since 1997.

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